Tag Archives: philosophy

How Webdesigning is Like Writing and Music

Since I both write music and literature outside of doing webdesign, I’ve found that the three activities are more similar than one might think otherwise. After all, they all activate my creativity, just in different ways; I play and design with pixels just like I do with notes and words.

So, here’s a little tongue-in-cheek webdesign philosophy for your Monday morning:

How is Webdesigning Like Writing?

  • Choosing just the right word for a description is like aligning each image pixel-perfectly on the screen.
  • In both writing and webdesign, the creator believes he or she has complete control over the final product, especially if working independently.
  • Both writers and webdesigners have the tendency to obsess over little details that nobody will actually notice.
  • Finding a missed typo in your writing is like finding a missed ending tag in your code–very annoying!

How is Webdesigning Like Music?

  • Little mistakes, whether in a browser or in performance, are rarely noticed by the audience.
  • Every musical performance is different, just like every Web browser renders a webpage a little differently.
  • What a listener gets out of a piece of music depends on his or her perspective and outlook on life; what a user gets out of a webpage depends on what browser and screen resolution he or she is using.
  • In both music and webdesign, no matter how many parts/harmony lines go into making it, it all renders as one beautiful whole to the audience.

Can you think of other ways that webdesign is like these art forms? What about other art forms (dance, visual art, etc.)? Leave me your thoughts in the comments! 😀

Broken Toys, Broken Worlds: A Wish to Fix Them Both

A huge toybox sat in the 3-to-5-year-old Sunday school room, stuffed to the gills with an assortment of donated toys. Our church was small and funding for toys was rather low on the list, so a good number of the toys were either missing pieces or broken. Us kids were pretty rough on ’em.

Most of the kids in my Sunday school class gravitated toward the new and shiny toys, the freshly-donated toys whose stickers hadn’t worn off, whose colors were still bright and whose plastic pieces were unscratched. In typical childlike behavior, those were the toys that got played with the most; the ones missing pieces, the ones whose joints had fallen apart and whose screws poked out, were buried in the toy coffin–I mean, the toybox.

Mine were the only little hands to delve into that graveyard of toys and dig out the broken ones.

Every Sunday I found a new “project” to work on, every time our teacher was finished with the Bible lesson and let us play a little while. One Sunday it was a jointed doll whose leg had fallen off; I found the doll’s leg stuffed inside a jack-in-the-box, and reattached it by the end of Sunday School that day. Another Sunday it was a cardboard religious puzzle set, with one piece torn in half. With a few strips of tape on the back, I fixed the torn piece so that I could put the whole picture together again.

Being such a bringer of chaos as I was then (I could un-straighten a room in 5 seconds, given a free moment with an open toybox), this was inexplicable, that I should want to fix broken toys rather than play with shiny new ones. But I followed the same practice at home, fixing up the toys I accidentally broke in too-zealous play, even if they sometimes ended up in a wad of scotch tape or rubber bands. I just hated the sight of a broken toy–it made me horribly sad, even at a young age.

I don’t really know why I have always been drawn to broken toys, and drawn to fix them in particular. After all, I’m not much of a handywoman, nor do I own a set of tools. My fixes weren’t always the most professional-looking, either. (LOL) Maybe it’s because a broken toy feels like a visual representation of lost childhood, lost innocence, broken childlike trust. Something twists, in emotional pain, when I see a broken toy, and I long to fix it so that everything is “right” again. Seeing a fixed toy, seeing it work like it’s supposed to again, always made me irrepressibly happy–I’d usually jump around and do some kind of happydance when everything was “back to normal” again.

Fixing the Broken World: Too Idealistic, or Someday Possible?

These days, I wish the world could be fixed with such simple implements as tape, rubber bands, and glue. It makes me just as sad to see others arrayed against each other in violence and hatred, leaving broken humans in their wake. Since I was a child, I’ve often thought of playing my music and reading my writing to the world, to help put back together what has been shattered so often. People have told me that my writing and music brings peace to them, and it certainly has brought that to me over the years as I created it.

It would be wonderful if the same art that has lifted me up and kept me going could someday keep others going, too; it wouldn’t be just an ego boost, but a true life’s purpose for me. Who knows, maybe the idle dream of making everybody feel better through my writing and music is too childlike, best left with the Barbies and Legos. But perhaps I’m still in the business of fixing broken toys–maybe I’m just aiming for slightly bigger toys, now.

Fantastic Places (That Don’t Really Exist)

Oh, if only these places and vistas really existed…I would definitely have to visit each one! Sometimes the sheer beauty of a place is inspiration enough, and these would be worth the travel time.

Image source: DesktopNexus.com

Image source: mi9.com

Image source: OnlyHDWallpapers.com

Image source: SolarFlareStudios.com

(For each of these images, click to get access to a much larger version, or you can go to the sourced website to retrieve it in a big enough size for your computer.)

Being a Newb at Art: Not a Bad Thing

Most people look at newbies or people who are new to something, negatively. Newbies are seen as lacking knowledge, always needing help, and not worth the time of experienced people. This most certainly goes for artistic pursuits; many times, I’ve seen experienced artists of every type look down on the “newbs” in their field, as if they have no talent or aren’t worth even talking to.

But, in my opinion, being a “newb” at something doesn’t mean you won’t have any talent for it. In fact, I’ve found that instead of my own newbish-ness getting in the way of learning more, I feel freer to explore whatever I’m trying to learn. I’m not yet so “experienced” that I’m locked into thinking a certain way or always doing things a certain way. Creatively speaking, being a newb can actually be more fun and more enlightening.

Newbs Have More Fun! (And Make Better Art)

Why do I say that being a newb is more creative and enlightening? Because as artists, as creative people, we can get sucked into the trap of “creating what other people like” or “creating art that sells” instead of “creating what we want.” We can easily fall for doing things the way other people have done them, just because the other people were successful and we want to be successful, too.

The bad thing about following the crowd in this way is that it can kill your desire to do art for yourself, as I have found out with my novel and my webdesign. Try to please others too often and for too long, and you end up completely dissatisfied with your soulless work.

But allowing yourself to be a newb, or getting back to a newb state of mind, can free you from this constrained thinking, and thus get you back into creating what makes you happy and what expresses your thinking the best. For example:

  1. Visual Art: Being an art newb means you can paint, draw, sketch, and/or sculpt any way you please; you aren’t constrained by the “laws of the Masters” or what’s currently avant-garde.
  2. Music: Being a music newb means you can put chords and melodies together according to what sounds good to YOU, not what sounds good to some dusty expert, or even what other musicians think.
  3. Dance: Being a dance newb means you can try out different poses and motions without worrying that it’s not part of a “traditional” dance routine, and without trying to do moves that you physically can’t do yet.
  4. Drama/Theater: Being a drama/theater newb means you are free to play any kind of role you want and explore many different characters without being typecast yet.

Creativity is All About “Thinking Outside the Box”–Why Put Your Art in a Box, Then?

In essence, being a “newb” at art means that you’re still defining your style, still exploring your art, and still having fun with it. The moment you lose that sense of wonder and exploration for your art is the moment the artistic sense in you wilts, in my opinion. See: my novel, and my increasing difficulty with writing it because I’m afraid nobody will “like it enough.” As soon as that fear crept in, writing slowed to a crawl for me.

But it is possible to get your “newb groove” back, as I have written about recently. Just allow yourself to experience art the way you used to, allow yourself to be childlike and “newbish” all over again. You’d be surprised how well this works! After all, yours truly just wrote a new page in her novel. 🙂

The Difference Encouragement Makes

Can you believe it’s been over a year since I started Zumba? I sure can’t. I didn’t think I’d ever find an exercise program I’d go back to twice, let alone keep attending for thirteen months. And yet, I have. What an odyssey to get even this far! And how much I have changed, physically and emotionally!

Before: Fearful, Uncertain, and Doubting

When I started Zumba back in June 2011, I was uncertain and afraid. I worried I’d be judged by my classmates, feared that the instructor would be a drill sergeant, and was scared that I wouldn’t be physically capable of doing any of the exercises. But most of all, I worried that this would be yet another notch on the “failed-exercise-attempt” post.

After all, all my other attempts at doing exercise over the years had failed. Back in middle school, I was too busy being victimized and bullied about my weight to really understand/do exercise; in high school, I avoided gym class like the plague for that very reason. And by college, my knees and ankles had taken so much of a beating that exercise was painful and frightening. Even after college, when I knew I needed to get fit and wanted to try, all the types I tried were lonely and boring (as I have written about before in October of last year and January of this year).

Why The Fear and Doubt Receded

But surprisingly, this attempt succeeded almost from the beginning, and has continued to succeed. Why? I believe it’s because of all the positive encouragement I received.

For one thing, my fellow Zumba class members are all cool people, most of them just like me, trying to get healthier instead of trying to show off perfected moves. I don’t feel intimidated by anyone else, and I don’t feel like they’re judging me, either. Instead, I feel that I’m in a class of my peers, peers who offer compliments to each other and support when needed.

Secondly, the instructor from whom I began taking Zumba classes truly took time to teach the moves rather than just expecting us to follow along. I never felt utterly lost the way I used to feel in other exercise classes. And the best thing? She offered positive reinforcement and urged us all to just “keep our feet moving,” not to worry about doing the moves perfectly. Instead of demanding we follow exactly as she demonstrated, she encouraged us to do only what our bodies were capable of, so that we would not hurt ourselves.

For me, a lifelong self-destructive perfectionist, that was a blessed relief to let go of that worry. She helped me see that I COULD do the exercises, and never let me discourage myself out of coming back to class. “You may not do these moves exactly the way I do,” she said once, “but if you’re moving at all, you’re going to help yourself feel better over time.” She was right.

The Result of Encouragement: Positive Change

Because of the encouragement I found in both my classmates and my instructor, I now believe in myself a lot more, and I’m beginning to have fun, too. It is possible to have fun doing full-throttle, sweat-inducing exercise–I never believed that before. Slowly, exercise has gained positive associations in my mind: where before it was always associated with shame, pain, and lack of ability, now it is associated with camaraderie, fun new challenges, and the thrill of being able to do more and more.

I think the lack of proper encouragement holds many people back from exercise these days. Either they try to do it all by themselves and end up feeling lonely and bored, or they try to exercise in a place that does not offer social encouragement and support. As I told my Zumba instructor, “I had to change mentally before any change could take place physically”–and I believe that. I had to feel that exercise was a positive experience worth having before I could convince myself to stay with it. Encouragement filled that gap for me.

Some Encouragement for You

I hope, if you’re reading this article and are trying to get in shape, that you will look up positive, encouraging people who know a lot about fitness and health to help you on your own fitness odyssey. Having people who can guide you as you try to get healthy makes such a positive difference. I didn’t think it would, until I experienced it for myself.

But I also hope, if you’re reading this article and know someone who’s trying to get in shape, that you will reach out to them and become a buddy to them, helping in any way you can. Heck, even if you see someone else at the gym who’s struggling along, I hope you’ll reach out and be kind to them. Positive encouragement from you could mean the difference between them coming back or them leaving and never returning. You never know!

A Butterfly Landing on My Car

It was just after 2:00 pm, which meant that the interior of my car was more like the surface of the sun as I sat in traffic, waiting for one of Shelby’s many stoplights to deign to let me pass. But this particular stoplight seemingly had a grudge against me today. Literal minutes were ticking by, it was hot as all get out, and I had somewhere to be. The discontented stream of grumbling in my head was quickly building to a fever pitch.

And then, I saw it: a butterfly, its wings patterned in brilliant blue and silky black, flitting among the cars gathered at the stoplight. It hovered and darted among hoods and roofs shimmering like metal carapaces, flying as if it were searching for something to light on. After a few more seconds, it came closer, and finally lit on my windshield, right in my line of sight.

I expected it to take off again right away, but instead, it was almost preternaturally still, except for its little antennae waving about as if trying to get my attention. How delicate its wings were, fragile and almost translucent…I studied it for a moment or two more, wondering how it was staying so still, and why.

The light up ahead finally turned green at last, but it seemed the butterfly knew to lift off the windshield even before I lifted my foot from the brake; I watched it hover just above the glass, as if it was trying to keep my attention. All too soon, though, I had to advance forward, leaving the butterfly behind, hopefully avoiding the tide of traffic behind me.

Driving on through the intersection, blessedly moving at last, I wasn’t quite so grumbly anymore. The butterfly’s moments of stillness, as it balanced daintily on the windshield, had reminded me that sometimes it was okay to be still, when moving too fast could endanger you. Maybe I didn’t need to worry about rushing ahead to make up time; maybe I would be better off not to drive as if the gas pedal were an enemy to stomp into the ground.

Now, I know that butterflies in the late spring are not uncommon, certainly, but allowing myself to be still a moment and ponder such a tiny, delicate creature was uncommon for me. I’m not known for being still, or quiet, or content…and yet, in those very few moments, I was perfectly content being all of those things, merely looking at a butterfly. How much calmer would I be, if I allowed myself more of those moments? …Come to think of it, how much calmer would we all be?

I like to think that sometimes God uses the littlest of creatures to remind us of huge essential truths, like the importance of just being still. What do you think?

To the Man I Saw on Broad River Bridge

This poem is based on an actual experience I had about a week ago.

You were just standing there,
leaning on one of the posts
I saw you just in passing
Your eyes were cast down

All I saw was the side of your face;
you looked a little pained
I don’t know if you were crying
I was going by too fast to see

I couldn’t slow down or stop for you
because of drivers behind me
But as I passed I wondered
As I passed, I worried

A small request to God was made
in the moments right afterward
as I drove away

I prayed for you not to jump
Prayed you’d be all right
Prayed you’d know it would get better soon
and wouldn’t take flight

I don’t know what you were there for
or if death was even a thought
But I’ve stood on a bridge in my mind
too many times to count
…and one more prayer can’t hurt

My Life as Tetris (A Poem)

I think we’ve all been here at one point or another…LOL

So many Z-bars stacked up on one side
and all I need
is one straight bar

Piles and piles of L-bars and T-bars
carefully arranged on the other side
and all I need
is one measly straight bar

But alas, the lovely simplicity
of a quick reward
eludes me

Maybe if I keep stacking these pieces
with no gaps,
I’ll get a bigger payoff
when I do get a straight bar

But for now I just have to stack them further
and pray they don’t tumble in on my head
before I get that last blasted straight bar

Content, not Perfect

I am generally happy with the course of my life thus far, though I might not seem like it in most of my Tuesday on the Soapbox posts.

Dealing with The Negatives

By most people’s standards, my life is definitely not perfect. I’m overweight, and I don’t have a lot of friends I routinely visit, nor too much nightlife going on. I don’t have a paying job, and my parents and I all suffer crippling ill health–arthritis, severe headaches, and old, unhealed injuries run rampant, forcing us all to be more bedridden than we should be. This leaves our house in a shameful state most of the time. (There are rooms in my house which I haven’t been able to walk into in literal years. Yes. OCD hoarding + family illness = housekeeping? What’s that?)

Celebrating the Positives

But I do have a lot to be thankful for. Quite a lot, in fact. I have a stable roof over my head and enough food to eat every day. I have a wonderful, loving, supportive boyfriend of several years; he and his family are awesome. Both my parents are still living–I can depend on them for advice and love, and I can also reciprocate the care for them that they lavished on me in my growing-up years. I have a great church family that accepts and loves me, and has helped me to grow more spiritually in the last 4 years than I did in the first 23. Plus, I have the free time to do a lot of creative projects, like this blog, that help others, even if I’m not getting paid for any of it. There’s a great emotional benefit to doing something that others enjoy, and while it’s not a paycheck, it fulfills a creative need in me.

Perfect Lives =/= Happiness

Many times we get wrapped up in how terrible our lives are when we start looking at the negatives of our lives, all the things that shouldn’t be happening to us but are, all the illness and emotional garbage, all the family and friend drama, not to mention workplace drama and unfairness. We get all torn up about our lives’ quality, wishing for the financial, romantic, and familial perfection we see pictured in movies and television.

I am not immune to that, any more than anybody else. I will say, personally, that it’s very easy, especially in the darkness of the wee hours of morning, to get depressed over the circumstances of my life, homebound and job-frustrated as I am.

But I am CONTENT. I am not living a perfect life, an ideal life. There are conditions I’m dealing with that I wish I didn’t have to. I wish I could walk without pain, and I wish I had a job, for instance. But I am blessed to have the talents I have, and the amount of love that pours into my life from others helps to drown these relatively small pains. There are people in the world who would covet my life as it is now; the best thing I can do is to praise God for all the blessings He’s shown me, and give others an opportunity for similar blessings through outreach work and giving as I am able.

Though there’s a lot of junk in my life, literally and figuratively, the positives of my life balance the negatives. I am not living an idealized life, but I am much better off than I could be. Realizing that I am much more blessed than I even imagine can, in itself, lift me up. Knowing that I can help others because I am blessed lifts me up, too.

A Challenge for You

I challenge my readers (all 10 of you, lol) to think of three areas of your life which are going well. For me, my church life, my relationships, and my creative life are all going very well. The areas of your life can be big or small, but think of three. Write them down so you remember them, and look back at the list when you are feeling terrible.

Trust me, it works: even when all else seems to be failing in another area (like health, for me), I can look to my successes in three other areas and think, “Well, things could be much worse for me–I am blessed to have what I have.” We all need some practice at feeling content with our imperfect lives…this is one way to do it.

Christmas Glassics: Tuesday on the Soapbox

Today, I’ll review the social commentary and philosophy posts I’ve made on Crooked Glasses since July 2011. I’ve written about a wide variety of topics this fall and winter, so there is much to read–but it won’t be a textbook, I promise!

If you’re interested in seeing more posts from this category, my first Tuesday on the Soapbox Glassics post can be found here.

The Lighthearted Writing

Laughable life anecdotes, favorite fashion/hairstyle and beauty product preferences, and not being afraid to say “Woot!” have graced this category over the last few months.

I’ve also written about taking just 5 minutes to relax, enjoying perfect little moments and favorite times of day. Other humorous articles include learning how to drive like a ninja, the strange “cage shoe” fad, and hilarious typo/autocorrect fails.

Srs Bsns (Serious Business): Eye-Opening Articles

I’ve literally covered a lot of mental ground this fall and winter…everything from the pathetic lack of empathy in today’s society to the difficulty of forgiveness.

Personal anecdotes (perhaps a little tirade-ish) dot this category a little more heavily; I wrote a good bit about my beefs with forgotten spelling, modern TV shows’ quality, and politicians talking over each other without listening. I also spoke about my frustrations with handicapped parking being taken by non-handicapped people, still living on dialup internet, getting healthy without emotional support, and the physical pain I endure daily.

Combining anecdote with universal insight, I have also written articles on living without a laptop, epic math hatred, feeling alien to this society, missing the company of furry friends, and dealing with mental clutter.

Dive In Anywhere–The Reading’s Fine

Though I do not claim to be an accomplished commentator, I know that I can at least put forth an opinion decently. My hope is that you gain something positive from these articles, even if they are more solemn than LOL-inducing.